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Chris Hallquist on the History of Fundamentalism

01 Sep

This is a pretty good post. Here’s a little excerpt:

One of the most famous attempts to counter the rise of theological modernism came in 1909, when a pair of wealthy businessmen named Lyman and Milton Stewart decided to finance a series of essays opposing liberalism and defending the truth of the Bible and what they regarded as traditional Christian doctrine. A couple essays explicitly endorsed a 1893 statement by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, which stated, “The Bible as we now have it in its various translations and revisions when freed from all errors and mistakes of translators, copyists and printers, is the very Word of God, and consequently, wholly without error.” This doctrine is known as “inerrancy.”

Over several years these essays, known as The Fundamentals, were sent free to Christian pastors and missionaries, and later they were republished as a four-volume set [10]. The word “fundamentalist” itself was proposed in 1917 by Baptist preacher Curtis Lee Laws, to describe himself and other Christians who were willing “to do battle royal for the Fundamentals”.

[…N]o one uses the word “fundamentalist” to describe anyone who lived much longer than a hundred years ago. Yet the beliefs defended in The Fundamentals are much, much older than that. In particular, Biblical inerrancy has been advocated by the most influential theologians in the history of Christianity.

For example, Augustine (354-430), the most influential Christian theologian from after the apostle Paul until the late middle ages, wrote that the authors of the books of the Bible “have not erred in any way in writing them.” Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), one of the most influential philosophers of the middle ages (some would say the most influential), quotes this statement approvingly near the beginning of his Summa Theologiae. (Ia.1.8) Martin Luther (1483-1546) and John Calvin (1509-1564), the two most important leaders of the Protestant Reformation, also accepted inerrancy. (Cite also W) As I’ll show in later chapters, all these men had ideas about what the Bible says that were closer to those of modern fundamentalists than to those of modern religious liberals.

It’s a short post, but you should go read the rest.

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Posted by on September 1, 2012 in history, post-nicaea Christianity

 

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